Taxing tourists - the case for and against Cornwall's tourist tax

13 June 2011

it's a Cornish Pasty, innit?

As the summer season approaches, and an estimated 4.5m extra visitors flood into Cornwall, Cornish councillors are now considering levying a £1-a-night tourist tax on visitors to the County. Literally a tax on tourists.

Already opinion is divided over whether this is a good or a bad thing. The council argue that all those extra people put a huge strain on public services and that the estimated £25million revenue it would raise would go towards paying for them and would “improve the tourist experience”

However, Tom Flanagan, Cornwall council's corporate director, admitted that collecting the tax could prove difficult and added that the council did not want to discourage tourists. Local businesses fear the tax would dissuade visitors from coming to Cornwall and that the new tax would put Cornish businesses at a disadvantage.

Whether or not £1 a night is enough to put people off visiting Cornwall remains to be seen, but it’s the principle we are interested in. After all, if Cornwall can do it, why not every other county?

Do Cornwall really want to open the floodgates for a county tax all around the country? Would counties charge according to their popularity, beaches or tourist attractions? If coastal counties can charge more, doesn’t that put inland counties like Leicestershire at a disadvantage? Would there be a sliding scale, with Cornwall or Cumbria at the top and the West Midlands* at the bottom? Culd Shropshire charge per hill, Liverpool per Beatle? Would the tax be progressive - £1 for a budget hotel but a fiver for one with a pool? Will it ever end?

What do you think - is a tourist tax a good idea or a bad one? Would it put you off visiting Cornwall? Would you select your staycation destination based on tourist tax levels? Do you even care?

* I actually live in the West Midlands. I picked it as I believe it is the farthest from any kind of coast in our fair land. So there.

TOPICS:   Travel   Tax

28 comments

  • Marky M.
    Yeah, you go for it Cornwall. It's already more expensive to holiday in the UK than it is in the Med, and the service is generally woeful. So go ahead, tax those who still choose to visit Cornwall and watch the rush to Devon, or Dorset, or anywhere other than your county.
  • axisofevil
    But the West Midlands would give you a £1/night for not cluttering up their "county", right? Actually, there is somewhere in Derbyshire which is the furthest point from any coast. AFAIK They dump Derbyshire in the East Midlands; even though it isn't East OR West!!!
  • Dick
    I'd weigh up the cost of the holiday and decide not to go. It's still cheaper to go abroad, and usually better weather. Devon could make a big thing about not charging tax, and hotels on the Devon side of the border might profit from it too. £1 doesn't seem much on it's own, but it is £28 for a family of four for a week.
  • Paddy
    "The council argue that all those extra people put a huge strain on public services " Of course, all those people don't spend a single penny in the local economy whilst they're there, do they? Of couse, this extra revenue isn't doesn't come back to the council in rates etc, does it? This is nothing but pure greed. Pointy headed, webbed fingered inbreds. Tax away and watch people flock to Devon or Dorset like Marky Mark mentioned. Cornwall is nice but a) it's a pain in the arse to get to and b) People will not want to go there if there is an additional tax.
  • Wilko
    "all those extra people put a huge strain on public services" - What - the public servives that we pay handsomely for through our taxes? Surely they can't tax us for services that we already pay for with our regular taxes??????
  • Numpty D.
    At least they havent started taxing taxis yet, you'd think they would wouldnt you, with the names and that.
  • br04dyz
    time to dust off the ol' tinker trailer and have me a holiday on the hard shoulder of the A394 just outside Helston...then I a) would be a drain on services as I won't be paying local auth. charges and b) will be saving a £1 a night as I bought my own lodgings with me! The life of a tinker for me :-)
  • Michael H.
    Would a tourist tax put me off visiting Cornwall? Not really. After all, people willingly pay tourist taxes in places like the Balearics (on top of the various air travel taxes that they pay to get their in the first place). Would the fact that Cornwall is an inbred, inaccessible dump put me off visiting Cornwall? Most definitely.
  • Jock
    I'm ok with it if they use the extra money raise to build some big fuck-off motorways all through Cornwall to make the trip there a bit less of a pain in the arse.
  • andy y.
    Dear Cornwall I'm no Cornish expert but I gather you had smuggling,then tin Mining,then Tourism. Now you have decided to kill Tourism what's your Plan B? No,you can't have pasties (now baked elsewhere) or cream(you thieved it from Lebanese sailors)
  • Big G.
    How about taxing the second home owners that bring little to the communities they infest?
  • Geum
    My family have visited Cornwall for our annual holiday for over 10 years, spending a fortune on accommodation and visitor attractions, not to mention car parking! Maybe Devon or Dorset will be more appreciative of our custom.
  • Rob
    I think this is a great idea and i hope they do it. Tourism takes a great toll on the infrastructure of Cornwall, the extra use of the roads the extra strain on the police force and fire service and all this is paid for by Cornish tax payers. Yet tourism contributes less than a quarter of the economy and employs less than 10% (which is seasonal and low paid). In effect a minority trade has a disproportionate spend of public money a tourist tax would help solve this. As to whether it would effect the industry negatively, I very much doubt it recent rises in VAT and fuel duty have not effected tourism and they after all have higher cost than a pound a night. If the tourism tax revenue was spent on infrastructure improvements then it would make for a better place 365 days a year and the crowds for the few weeks in the summer.
  • Steve P.
    The Balearics tried this a few years ago. Nobody liked it. From the Hotels that had to collect it, to the tourist who had to pay it. Think we had to pay an extra 100 euros for he 2 of us for 14 nights. After an election. The opposition got in, and scrapped the 'Tourist Tax'
  • me
    @ Rob STFU!
  • Myrtle
    Haven't decided if I'm for or against just yet, but living in Devon, I can see Cornwall's point. The water bills alone for residents is ludicrous, mostly due to the fact that we're paying for cleaning the beaches and maintaining them when the tourists leave their litter. Seems more than a little unfair that we're left to pick up the tab when all the visitors get to enjoy the results. Having said that, I doubt any tax going to the Council would result in a reduction of our water bills . . .
  • Mutineer
    Presumably the strain on the local services is countered by all the money that's brought into the region by tourists? And, let's face it, without tourism what other industries does Cornwall have? I think these tinpot councillors need to stick to what they're good at, e.g. taking backhanders from supermarkets to allow their planning applications to sail through, and leave strategy to someone not burdened with the disability of only having shit for brains.
  • Jock
    @Myrtle: "..we’re paying for cleaning the beaches and maintaining them when the tourists leave their litter." For goodness sake - get with the program! Why pay for this when you can "Big Society" it. Get off your arses and clean it up yourself. Doesn't cost a penny, and helps you get some exercise too. A win-win! :)
  • PokeHerPete
    Cornwall need a foil tax, they make enough hats out of it.
  • Justin
    Im Cornish, and i'm certainly not inbred. Firstly, Cornwall is a duchy and not just "another county". Wikipedia: "Cornwall is the traditional homeland of the Cornish people and is recognised as one of the Celtic nations, retaining a distinct cultural identity that reflects its history. The geographical area of Cornwall also constitutes the Duchy of Cornwall. It is recognised as one of the Celtic Nations." I'm all for the tax, we don't particularly enjoy having thousands of stella artois drinking, baseball cap wearing, sweaty, pisshead EMITS descending upon us every year. If you can't afford a £1 a night tax to pay to clear up your crap behind you, we certainly don't want you.... Go to Devon! @andy of yarn: It's pastys, not pasties (thats english - not cornish). Also, the pasty was also recently given protected status, you've clearly never had a proper cornish pasty if you think you can buy anything that resembles one outside of west cornwall. EMIT. EMIT: An old Cornish word that literally translates as "ant". Now widely used by locals during the summer months to describe tourists in a derogotory manner.
  • StauntonLick
    @Justin EMIT - I like that, I might have to steal it to describe the hoards that descend upon Brighton as soon as it gets over 15 degrees. Is it pronounced "Ee-mit" or "Emm - it"?
  • Alan P.
    @Justin. Do you EMIT pellets?
  • Pie M.
    > we don’t particularly enjoy having thousands of stella artois drinking, baseball cap wearing, sweaty, pisshead EMITS descending upon us every year. Just be thankful that they do, it's the only reason any of you inbreds have a job.
  • Father J.
    "EMIT: An old Cornish word that literally translates as “ant”. Now widely used by locals during the summer months to describe tourists in a derogotory manner." You should hear what they call you Justin. As insular, ignorant, parochial inbreds go you're right up there with the very best.
  • Steve
    It woulbe be funny if they did this and tourism fell by 50% the next year Cornwall would go bust and all the People from Cornwall Posting here would be the first in the line to hang the people who started this tax Lets face if you have Tourism and thats about it
  • Milky
    Justin, way to go, you know how to offer great customer service judging by your statement. Yes the pasties are good (& some of them are dross) but it's only a recipe, ...which can be duplicated & the Cornish bit merely "dropped" So how do you sort out paying those of us who aren't yobs, who don't drop litter & in fact take it home because Cornwall had pitiful recycling facilities when we were there back in March & April & recycle it at home. Perhaps A section of the Cornish duchy community is actually at fault for not nipping such behaviour in the bud in the first place? Are you the head of Cornish tourism? ..if so it figures! Prove you are worthy of such statements by doing some "big society" cleaning up / teaching prats not to be so inconsiderate, ..try it on yourself too! If you wish to turn everywhere into a tribe, then you need to start addressing the rest of the country in the same manner in which you believe yourself to be you racist bastard! Luckily most of us visitors go to Cornwall for the land & seascapes not to encounter ignorant small minded racists like you, ..if you are so pure of race I guess you've traced it all the way back & crossed out anything that might have you stoned to death for being "one of them"? ...you could pop it up here for all to see if you like, then we may be able to take your rantings that bit more seriously. The "duchy" of Corwall has a lot of english, greek & german blood in his ancestory doesn't he??? ..has he got to fuck off out of the "Nu-Cornish Order" ...grow up you fool. you are part of the united kingdon, an amalgamation of tribes & countries.
  • Dick
    @Justin Wikipedia also states that "A study in 2000 suggested that there were around 300 people who spoke Cornish fluently." So are you one of these 300? Or do you just know one or two words that you can use to describe tourists in a derogatory manner (much like many Welsh "speakers" that know anti-English words and not much else)?
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